Micro Stock Pot Luck

Shipping crates in doorway, CWE.
Shipping crates in doorway, CWE.

At the risk of getting my feelings hurt, I submitted a couple of photos to a micro-stock website to see if I could get any of my work accepted. Since I seem to have a lot of photos that are likely never going to see the light of day again, I thought micro-stock photography seemed like something worth exploring.

This morning I went through all the photos I made with my Nikon D70 during the year of 2007 and found that I had very few if any images that I thought might work as stock photography.  First I rejected a bunch for technical defects; like noise and chromatic aberration; while some just were not that interesting (what was I thinking). Many of the other photos contained trademarks or recognizable buildings and landmarks that can’t be used without a property release. There were a few shots of people that I could have used but then I would have to go back and get a model release from each person before I can submit those photos. I certainly didn’t want to spend hours editing a pile of images just to have them rejected for one reason or another.

I was hoping I could come up with enough stock images to at least buy a new flash or some other accessory but the truth is I don’t know if I can come up with even a hundred images suitable to use as stock photography that would actually sell.  My best guess is that the name of the game is specialization and that a streamlined work-flow is essential to making money in micro-stock. 

As usual, I was looking to harvest the low hanging fruit but I don’t think that is going to work very well. I’m not sure the return on investment is worth it unless you get in on a massive scale. I’m thinking that you would need a dedicated workspace to serve as a small studio and then come up with a standard lighting scheme. Everything would have to be done in an assembly line type environment in order to make an average of less than a dollar per image. Is it really worth it?

I don’t have room to keep a tabletop studio set up all the time, let alone a big seamless backdrop for shooting models. What I am going to try to do is to incorporate some stock shots into my regular photography routine and see if I can come up with a few good samples each week. It never hurts to try something new except maybe to bruise the old ego which hates being made to look like a fool.